It has been an extremely stormy week here in Seattle and we have already had a little bit of snow in the mountains so it is not surprising that my thoughts are turning to the falling of the leaves and possibilities of what to do with them.
A couple of months ago I came across this beautiful photo of painted autumn leaves and I thought what a wonderful idea of how to use leaves both as a reflective exercise during this season and as autumn decorations. I have been experimenting ever since on how best to paint and use leaves in this way. This would be a fun autumn activity to do with kids too.
So here goes:
- Collect a variety of leaves of different colours and shapes. It is easiest to paint the leaves before they are completely dry so make sure that you collect ones that you think will be easy to work with.
- Press the leaves between sheets of paper under a pile of books to flatten them out before you paint them.
- Paint the leaves with paint pens, or other acrylic paints. I find the paint pens easier to work with than a paint brush but it is fun to experiment with different types of pens and paints. It is easiest to paint around the outline of the leaf and along the veins, but this is a wonderful opportunity to let your creative imagination loose.
- Decorate, have fun, get your kids involved or maybe even have a decorating party. Leaves like this are fun decorations for your dining room table, or mantle. If they are not too dry you can thread them onto a length of twine and hang them around the room. Or stick them on the windows or use them to make a wreath. You might like to try preserving them using this technique (I have not tried it so cannot tell you how effective it would be with painted leaves like this) or you could dry using glue as in this tutorial
You may like to do this as a reflective exercise or as a focus for a whole day of reflection. The exercise I describe below will take at least an hour to accomplish. Do it alone or invite a group of friends over and do it together.
- Plan a trip to a place where you know there will be a good selection of trees with different shaped and sized leaves.
- Walk around the area you have chosen. Take some deep breaths in and out and savour the fragrance of the fresh air.
- Look around at the trees and their different leaves. What shapes and colours catch your attention?Take some time to examine the leaves.
- Pick your leaves either from the tree (being careful not to damage the tree itself) , or from the ground the ones that most appeal to you. Choose a variety of shapes, sizes, and colours. What is it about these leaves that you appreciate?
- Once you have a good collection of leaves take them home and press them between sheets of paper under a pile of books for at least an hour before undertaking the following exercise or prepare them as in the tutorial above.
Take time for reflection and prayer.
- Sit prayerfully in the presence of God and remind yourself of the beauty of the trees you have seen and the leaves you have collected.
- Arrange your leaves in front of you. Examine them, Trace their outline with your finger. Remind yourself of why you chose these particular leaves. How would you describe your leaves – strong, fragile, thin, unique? What thoughts come to mind as you examine them?
- Read through Ecclesiastes 8: 1-15. which begins For everything there is a season. As you contemplate the changing of the seasons that your leaf collection represents, what thoughts come to your mind? Perhaps you too are in a season of change. What is God saying to you at this season? Write down your thoughts.
- Are there key words you wrote down that could contribute to the design on your leaves? Are there emotions you would like to see expressed during this season, or ideas you would like to see fulfilled? Write these down and prayerfully consider how you could incorporate them into your leaf art.
- Decorate your leaves with different colours and designs.
- When you are finished pause again for reflection and prayer. Read through Ecclesiastes 8: 1-15. again. Reflect on your leaves and their design. What do they tell you about God? What have you learned about yourself as a created being and God’s beloved child in this exercise?
- Take some time to express your reflections and discoveries through a prayer to God. You might like to write this down in your journal or write a poem.
- Now go out and spread your art throughout the house as a reminder for this season of what God has been saying to you.
What a beautiful reflective practice for my retreat time this month. Thank you so much